Superhero origin stories have been the name of the Phase 4 game. From Ms. Marvel to Kate Bishop to Moon Knight, a steady stream of new characters have joined the ranks of the remaining Avengers. However, transformation tales aren't exclusive to MCU newbies. Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson also underwent a different kind of origin story in accepting the mantle of Captain America from Chris Evans' Steve Rogers, whose own whereabouts are still a mystery.
By the final episode of 2021's The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+, Mackie's Sam Wilson fully embraced his own Captain America persona and is set to continue his story in Captain America: New World Order on May 3, 2024.
But even though the Disney+ series established that Mackie is the new Cap, it also expanded the mystery of Steve Rogers' post-Endgame status. Given the secrecy surrounding the character, and the questions fans have about his time-traveling mission to return the Infinity Stones, does Marvel Studios have plans for a Chris Evans cameo in Captain America 4?
Here's a breakdown on how the actor could return to the role in Marvel's upcoming Captain America: New World Order.
What's the Plan for the OG Star-Spangled Man?
Rumors about Chris Evans returning to the role of Steve Rogers are anything but new. Back in early 2021, Deadline reported that the actor was "expected" to reprise his MCU role "in some form," and "in at least one Marvel property with the door open for a second film."
This is one of the many reasons why anticipation was so high for a Steve Rogers cameo in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. However, it's worth noting that in response to this report, Chris Evans tweeted "News to me" along with a shrugging emoji.
But despite Evans' denials and the fact this rumor has yet to materialize, the shadow of Steve Rogers' Captain America still looms large over the MCU; and that's largely due to Marvel Studios.
In addition to multiple references to his iconic shield, Marvel Studios has dropped Rogers: The Musical in New York City in more than one MCU project. And, most recently, Marvel chose to have Ms. Marvel's AvengerCon held at Cap's own Camp Lehigh in New Jersey.
It seems that there is a concerted effort to keep the "Man out of Time" timely without letting the audience in on the conclusion of the character's story.
However, even though Chris Evans has avoided confirming plans for his character's return, and has been incredibly supportive of the fact that "Sam Wilson is Captain America," that doesn't mean there's no role for Steve Rogers to play in Captain America 4 and beyond.
How Chris Evans Could Return in Captain America 4
Once again, while The Falcon and the Winter Solder established Sam Wilson as Captain America, the series also showed that Sam Wilson is his own man and a different take on the star-spangled hero.
In addition to not being a super soldier and sporting Falcon-esque wings, Sam has a different responsibility in terms of being Cap. And, according to Captain America 4 writer Malcolm Spellman, Sam will still be wrestling with the idea of "whether or not a Black man should be Captain America" in Captain America 4.
While Carl Lumbly's Isaiah Bradley and his character's experiences helped Sam embrace the mantle in a way that Steve Rogers couldn't, that doesn't mean he won't have questions for Steve. In fact, Sam may need to face his friend now that he's become the new Cap as a necessary step in his character's journey.
While audiences don't yet know if Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes will be part of the film, due to his own journey in the Disney+ series, it may be time for him for a heart-to-heart between himself and Steve as well.
The plot of New World Order and the threat that Sam will be faced with could be another reason why Chris Evans will return as Steve Rogers.
Again, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier went out of its way to show that those within the MCU universe don't know what happened to Rogers, with some believing that the hero is actually living on the moon. The whole theory is a bit out there, to say the least, unless he's actually on that Skrull ship with Nick Fury, preparing for whatever threat Phase 5 and beyond has in store?
Due to Steve Rogers' age, his experience, and whatever happened while returning the Infinity Stones, Fury and the remaining Avengers may need the retired hero for information in Captain America 4. And, after all, if those in-universe rumors weren't going to be revisited in a Captain America-related project, it's unlikely that they would've been brought up in Sam Wilson's Disney+ series to begin with.
What Could a Chris Evans Cap Cameo Look Like?
If Chris Evans does return for either or all of these purposes, it will likely be as a short and sweet but powerful cameo and definitely not as Captain America. Instead, Evans is sure to be the aged Steve Rogers from the end of Avengers: Endgame, offering information and support only.
This different type of presence is something Evans has hinted at in prior interviews and has even referred to as "some weird extension of that legacy."
While his comments show that he's cautious about coming back, they also prove that he's thought about it and has an idea of what it could look like, which may be evidence of those conversations with Marvel Studios.
While the MCU faithful will have to wait and see if Chris Evans will actually appear in New World Order, it's hard to deny that Marvel Studios hasn't set the stage for such a moment and that there isn't ample opportunity.
Captain America: New World Order will release in theaters on May 3, 2024.